Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Easter Bunny Village

Nicholas and Nicole at Purina Farms in Gray Summit, MO, just down the road from Six Flags. There is so much to see and do there. Especially at this time of year. They have Easter Bunny Village, with all sorts of baby barnyard animals, a hayloft where children can swing on ropes, climb through tunnels and play with toy tractors in big tables filled with corn. They have a Coy fish pond, large barnyard animals, a movie to view and all sorts of interactive displays. Weather-permitting, they have wagon rides (pulled by a tractor) around the premises. All of this is free; you just have to call for reservations. We had the best day ever!

Please scroll down for two more cute photos. You'll love the dog.

Is it the Shaggy Dog?

Which one do you think is the cutest? Nicole, 2 years old, was so excited when she noticed the dog outside of its cage. Nicholas, 8 years old, thought it was The Shaggy Dog from the movies and swore he was never going to wash the hand he petted it with ever again! This is not an English Sheep Dog but a Bearded Collie. Don't you just want to hug it? Purina Farms has a dog performance, several resident dogs go through the agility course, and catch frisbees and even long jump into a swimming pool. Such a fun day!

Purina Farms

Nicholas and Nicole at Purina Farms in Gray Summit, MO

It was a beautiful, sunny day, 80 degrees and breezy. I took my daughter-in-law and the grandchildren to see the Easter Bunny Village.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A fascinating memoir

I just finished reading The Liar's Club, a memoir by Mary Karr. It was on the New York Times Bestseller List for more than a year. If you've ever thought that you were reared by a bunch of crazies, you must read this witty, raw and honest book about growing up in East Texas with an older sister and alcoholic parents. Karr was her father's shadow, tagging along on hunting, fishing and gambling adventures with the good old boys, thus acquiring a vocabulary no child should be exposed to, much less be fluent in. She was her mother's keeper, so to speak, from the time that she was a little girl. This book is a frank, raw, emotional ride, but one I could not put down.

Reading this book confirmed what I already know, that the stories that are most difficult to write are sometimes the most riveting to read. We all have common experiences. Even those who have had idyllic childhoods can't help but peek into Mary Karr's past and seek a voyeuristic view of the unfathonable. Life isn't all pretty, but survive we do, as Karr proves.

My essay, Reflections of Me, will be published in Sasee Magazine in May. In this piece, I view my life through a variety of mirror images as I grow through the decades.

Have you ever looked in the mirror and suddenly seen your mom's eyes? Have you ever wondered who that unrecgonizable gal was in your mirror? We all have our own stories. Tell me what you have seen in your mirror at some point in your life, early on to present day.

This morning I see a 5'4" fuzzy, pink bunny looking back at me...I am not 'touched in the head'. I am wearing my bunny costume to school for the Easter party,as this is the last day before Spring Break. Woo-hoo, I need a week off! And that isn't a lie.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

This too must stop!

This morning my hubby took me to a breakfast buffet. I am a people watcher, and I noticed one thing in particular. The young people by-passed the donuts, but the older folks indulged. Must be age-related. Back in 'our day' in St. Louis, there were German bakeries in every neighborhood. There were either churches, taverns or bakeries on every corner, and in some neighborhoods, there were all three. Bakery goods were staples in most households; you could get a day-old peanut cake slathered with thick white icing, or 4"x10" rectanglular-shaped coffee cakes piled high with crumbs (my favorite) or fruit. The salesclerks would rip off a sheet of white paper, wrap the sweets in a flash and tie the package with twine. Donuts were our comfort food. I have traveled across the U.S. and have never found bakery goods like we had in St. Louis.

This too must stop!

Fifteen minutes usually flies
except when I'm doing exercise.
I bend, I stretch, I kick 'em high
trying to tone my flabby thighs.
I don't know why I even try;
I never pass a donut by.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

This has to stop!

What is the matter with me? Chocolate French Cruller on the way to work, chocolate chip granola bar, chocolate Hostess cupcakes (two in a pack; yep I ate both) and two Oreo cookies. Can I blame it on Dave? My daughter has been telling me all day about her fiance's birthday, so maybe my overindulgence is a cause celebre`. Happy 40th Dave.

How I lay me down to slumber

Landlocked in fluffy blankets,
I cruise the Great Muddy
as it percolates into the Gulf of Mexico
where an ocean breeze
snatches my sigh and
whips it out to sea on a turquoise wave.
Salt air smoothes my skin, briny water tames my mane.
My worries silhouette in fire-glow sunsets.

I pillow my head on cold winter nights,
snuggle, and lie
on warm sugar sands watching dolphins arc
as a steady percussive rhythm pounds in my ear.
Time thumbs the pages of my life faster
than I can “X” off another day,
yet it seems a lifetime
until summer vacation.

Every year we go to Florida. This year we booked our first Carribean cruise. I'm nervous, but I can't wait. Any cruisers out there have any advice for a newbie?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

She Writes blog site, here's the link

This is the link for She Writes Blog

Whopper of a web site

Sometimes I get frustrated when I search for markets; it's like sitting at the lake fishing all day and not even getting a bite. I'm too impatient to fish, (plus I'd feel guilty if I actually HOOKED one), but I know people who sit there for hours with no instant (or any) gratification. I couldn't do it, especially if I didn't even get a nibble, or if I just kept hooking the same little squirt over and over. It's like that when I search markets; I keep coming up with the same sites. UGH!

This morning I hooked the trophy "fish". I discovered, She Writes. This is a freelancer's site and they generously share their secrets of how to hook the big ones. Five pages worth of publishing info. Put on your sunscreen and a wide brimmed hat and go fishing. Or slather on moisturizer, sit in your jammies and troll. Have fun.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Award...fact or fiction?

To the inimitable Lisa Ricard Claro I offer a heartfelt "thank you!" for bestowing upon me the above prestigious award.

As I understand it, this great honor is a license to be creative which, as all writers know, is akin to putting a Labrador Retriever in a room full of rawhide and commanding him to "Chew!"

Rules of acceptance require me to list seven wild and wacky little known facts about myself, at least one of which must be true (all may be true if I decide to let you in on my deep, dark secrets). You, buttercup, will have to decide for yourself which, if any, of the facts below are crazy truths or creative fiction:

1. I once had a flat tire on Hy 55 and got hung up by my shorts
climbing a chain link fence.
2. I came eye to eye with a free roaming buffalo and her calf
outside my house; I sweet-talked soothingly, "It's okay baby."
I was talking to my unborn baby as I backed indoors.
3. I saw Ray Charles in concert and when someone heckled him,
he unzipped his pants on stage and made an obscene remark.
4. At seventeen I asked Chuck Berry if he was REALLY Chuck Berry.
5. I saw Joan Rivers come through the airport with her two unleashed
Yorkies. She bore a striking resemblance.
6. I was eating at McDonald's with my kids when I felt a sneeze
coming on. I reached into my pocket for a tissue and came up with
a pair of granny panties that unfurled like a surrender flag.
7. I went to the beach today and sank my feet in the sand and
swam with dolphins.
Your turn Lynn, Beth and Julia. Cut and paste the image and instructions to your blog and pass it on.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Doing a happy jig!

Whoo-hoo! I'm dancing in my seat. The luck of the Irish is with me. I just got a contract from Chicken Soup. My story made final round for Shaping the New You. They make no promises until the very last minute, but this one looks like it might make it. I sent it off in Jan. '09 and it won't be released until Dec. '10, so that is nearly two years in development. That is why you just have to send it off and let it go.

My husband is so funny sometimes, or maybe I'm just giddy tonight. We went out this evening and on the way home he said in an artificial uppity voice, "I enjoyed dining out with you and going to the theater this evening." Then he laughed and said, "Well, as a writer, nobody knows better than you, it's all in how you word it. Sounds better than saying I enjoyed the $3.00 show and McDonald's."

Then the sun was shining behind the clouds and the sky had a red cast. He said, "Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Red sky at morning, sailor take warning." I said, "Are you kidding? It's a red sky tonight, does that mean it's going to be warm tomorrow?" He chuckled again, "I said, sailor's delight, not Linda's delight."

More good news, my daughter-in-law's vision has improved enough so that she can drive in the daytime. I am so grateful to God and to all of you for your prayers.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Let Your Light Shine Too

Thanks to Becky P for announcing Tiny Lights, a Journal of Personal Narrative. My response to the question, Where does your mind wander? is posted on line. There are monthly free entries, no compensation other than publication, but that's how you can rack up a credit, friends. There are also entry fees for contests, and the prize money is good. Good luck one and all.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

One Sweet Mess

Like most women, I covet chocolate, the darker the better. As a mother of young children, I tamed temper tantrums (mine) with M&Ms that I kept stashed high in a cupboard. When my son or daughter said, "Mommy, I smell candy," closed-mouth I chewed fast, swallowed hard and responded,"Probably your scratch and sniff stickers."

When I became a preschool teacher, I loved the perks. Kids offered me kisses at recess, the chocolate kind. One day I discovered an open bag of chocolate chip morsels that my co-teacher had intended to use for a science experiment later in the day. There must have been a thousand little niblets of delight in that bag, and I knew she wouldn't miss a few. Confident that she was with the students on the playground, I looked up and down the hall, and then I closed my classroom door. I stuffed not one, but two fists full of those itty bitty bits of divine rapture into my mouth. At one time! I was immersed in pleasure, my eyes closed, my head rolled back in ecstasy chewing as fast as I could when the door opened. Panicked, I straightened up, held that wad in my mouth like a baseball player with a chunk of chaw in both cheeks. A good looking, substitute milk delivery man looked wide-eyed at my swollen jaws. He nodded hello and kept staring at me as he handed me the purchase order. I tried a tight-lipped smile as I autographed his paper. I probably could have pulled it off, except that he had an Aha Moment; I could see it in his face.

"Well-well-well, helllooo there. It's been a while."
Although it had only been a week between deliveries I grunted from my gut, "Uh-huh."

"I do believe my twins, Clark and Amanda were in your class about ten years ago. Aren't you Mrs.---?"

Grinning like a ninny, and lying big time, I shook my head from side to side. Out popped a chocolate chip, up popped my hand, out bugged my eyeballs. I tried to swallow, but the gob of goo started to drip down my esophagus, and I almost choked. I did what any teacher worth her salt, or chocolate would do. I spat those flavinoids into the waste basket and wiped my mouth with a tissue. Then I offered a true confession and the bag of chocolate chips to the milkman.

(Roll over Erma)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A complete and heartfelt letter in one sentence

Present Letter is the name of my friend, Lynn Obermoeller's new blog. Please stop by and see what a writer can accomplish with one sentence -a complete, heartfelt letter to her deceased mother accompanied by a photo and beautiful sketch done by her daughter. Please welcome her at

See if you can do it; write a sentence that could be perceived as a complete letter. I used to be so guilty of ten page letters. Brevity is an art. Here is mine:

Dear Tracey,
I am happy that you met Dave and have finally stopped searching Ebay nightly for Henry, your favorite childhood warm fuzzy and much-loved stuffed animal.

Hugs and Kisses,

Readers, Will you send me one?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Take the detour when you get the chance

I enter Highway 55, my approach swift, daring, short of reckless because of the harried drivers who zoom, dart, change lanes, tailgate and cut me off. Moms with kids, tradesmen in pickup trucks, and executives in suits whip around, forget to signal. Semi trucks scare the wits out of me. I release a heavy sigh when I see my exit. My shoulders relax and I slump comfortably; then my neck tenses when I notice the detour sign. I have to turn into Carondelet Park. If I stay on the thoroughfare I'll arrive to work on time. But I decide to drive deeper into the park. Enormous oaks and maples form a brilliant canopy as I wind my way through the park. Memories rain down like a happiness cloud burst. Spring is here and I am nostalgic ...

Easter Sunday, Mom in her dark, bouffant hairdo, one arm swinging her purse; Pops in his suspenders and blue chambray shirt strolling side by side. Her silky, forest green dress blows in the breeze as my children romp ahead chasing the wind and clutching their stuffed rabbits and dreams untold. Her grandma-prayers and cigarette smoke carry to the tree tops.

I drive around the lake and watch the fountain spew water sky high; it's a spray of shimmering giddy delight. This is the grand basin where I wheeled my baby boy in a stroller as he ate his first ice cream cone. A shaggy dog, walking by with its owner
snatched it from his hands and in one gulp devoured it. Now it's funny.

I pass the gentle sloping hill... is that you my little girl still rolling, rolling, giggling all the way down and racing back to do it again? "Please, Mom, one more time?" I lie down and roll with her, dizzy with happiness.

Every winter our family staked a claim on that steep incline where frigid air nipped our noses, paralyzed our fingers and froze our feet stuffed into plastic bread bags (MOM!) and fur lined boots. I see my younger self plopping down on a radio flyer and wrapping my children safely in my arms as we zooomed down snow packed ruts. Carefully I guide the sled over rough spots and into soft landings.

That vacant ballfield spinning dust memories reminds of the March wind carrying our kites with forever tails and endless string and childhood fantasies into the great beyond. Eventually they came crashing down, broken like our family.

Horshoe Lake beckons. Canada geese and Mallard ducks squawk louder than the noise that my children made when they chased those birds. They never caught a duck although they tried and tried. In pursuit of ducks and dreams and wild goose chases, my children waddled faster and further away than I thought they ever would.

Today's detour turned out to be a wonderful diversion, one of life's simple pleasures, a drive down memory lane. If you see a familiar detour, take it!
(This was written a couple of years ago.)

Monday, March 8, 2010

From a third grader's perspective

I asked my eight year old grandson, Nicholas, who is a sweet little boy, how school was going. He said, "Not good, Nana. My teacher isn't nice anymore. She used to be pregnant and hormonal, and now since she's had her baby, she's meaner than Judge Judy."
He was so serious and couldn't understand why I was laughing so hard.
"Hormonal"... Proof that kids take it all in!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Rainy day memories

Last night on the news I heard it was going to rain today and clear by afternoon. I don't like rain; it makes me feel sticky and uncomfortable, but today I would welcome those drops because it means spring is near. I am thrilled, there are tiny green shoots and buds all around me. Even though it was nippy on Friday, I took my students outdoors and we flew the little kites that we made. Oh to be out in the fresh air. It is exactly what we all needed.

This morning when I woke and it was not raining, I rejoiced. I am going outdoors for a few rays of vitamin D this afternoon. A wee bit of exercise won't hurt me either; a whole bunch would actually help!

Even though I don't like rainy weather, I had a fond childhood memory of a warm summer rain. My brother and I, 9 & 10 got drenched in the rain and raced popsicle sticks in the gutter at the curb. Such small things made us so happy and excited back then. Maybe it is because we had to create our own games and make do with what we had. After the rain, the sun came out and baked the ground, and warmed a large pot hole filled with rainwater. It made a perfect, warm, wading pool for the neighborhood kids to splash in.

Writing this post reminded me of music class in fourth grade when we had to sing Row-row-row Your ROUNDS! I never could keep my place.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Our new idea of camping

This photo of me in our hybrid Cub camper at Lake Carlyle, Illinois evokes many wonderful memories. A few minutes ago I shed happy tears as my son hitched it up and pulled it out of our driveway. I know that he and his wife and their two children 2 & 8 will enjoy it for many years to come. That camper has provided climate controlled shelter for us when we vacationed in Florida and elsewhere, but two weeks in a camper is too much for us. It's not like we'll never go to the campground or on family outings again. It just means when night falls, we'll retire from the campfire to the nearest motel. Everyone is happy.

Are you balanced like a see-saw or a perpetual motion bobber?

I just finished reading a wonderful anthology, If I Had My Life to Live Over. Each story and poem gave me a snippet glance into my own life and made me realize something. I am glad that I still work. It makes me feel as though I am on a see-saw, a teeter-totter, that board positioned over an elevated center that allows me to find my balance between teaching and writing. If I had all the time in the world to write, I'm afraid I'd be one of those perpetual motion birds that dunk in a glass of liquid. I'd never take a moment to rest. When I read something that trips a memory, I feel compelled to write about it. I'm glad I am not a compulsive person. I usually don't jot my ideas down. When I write, I wing it.

On that note, this old bird is off to the elementary school (our preschool is off site) for Kindergarten Buddy Day. That means, I take both classes, my former preschoolers and my current ones and entertain them while the Kg teacher meets and greets the parents. After thirty two years of teaching, I have so many fun activities to pull out of my sleeve, I can hardly wait to entertain sixty of my favorite little people! Talk about perpetual motion. Them, not me.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Fortune Cookies

This evening we went to a Chinese Buffet. My fortune cookie was as generic as can be: In due time, good things will come your way.

I got to thinking about all of the contest submissions I have out there with March and April deadlines. Hmmm, maybe. In due time I'll let you know if I even come close with the Erma Bombeck contest.

There is humor in everyday events, but you have to be on the lookout. A Chinese young man asked his elderly dinner companion, "What if the Mayan calendar prediction is correct? I have a lot of anxiety about this." The old man said, "So, order anything you want."